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Yauri Regatta Festival expertise in canoe paddling, naval warfare

By Oluwaseun Sonde

Yauri (or Yawuri) is an emirate in Nigeria ‘s Kebbi State, occupying the Yauri Local Government Area. Today, Yauri is one of the smallest historical emirates in Northern Nigeria.

In 1972, the population was about 112,000 people inhabiting a land area of about 1,306 square miles (3,380 km 2) and scattered over six major districts. HISTORY ‘Rigata’ is a Gunganchi word meaning, Marine War. In its context, the word connotes buoyancy and Prestige.

The annual Cultural Featival of Yauri people involves riverine maneuvers including water sports and entertainment. The festival started about 200 years ago as a display of naval strength of Gungu people where gungu warriors annually attack the most dangerous Hippopotamus around the River Niger. Warriors back then board various sizes of canoes with different types of weapon and attacked the wild animals.

This requires expertise in canoe paddling and naval warfare. It also serves as training exercise for upcoming gungu warriors. With the Coming of the Europeans in the 19th century, the then Colonial Government banned hunting of Hippopotamus in order to preserve them, Rigata then became a display of wealth, power and influence during wedding ceremony of highly places families.

This was how it continued until the visit of the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello(Sardauna of Sokoto) where Rigata and Agricultural shows were organized to honor the late premier. The reinvigoration of the Rigata event as well as its adoption by the Government of Kebbi State as a cultural event occurred during the reign of His Royal Highness, Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu the 42nd Emir of Yauri Regatta Festival Kebbi State Government revived the two-centuries-old Yauri Regatta Festival last year, after a four-decade hiatus while the magnificence of the Yauri Regatta Festival has earned it a pride of place in the Calendar of National Festivals.

Recently the festival was attended by the Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Badugu; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila; the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Adamu Abdullahi and the traditional rulers in Kebbi State, include the Boat Regatta; canoe competition and swimming competition.

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